Roger Brooke Taney Roger Brooke Taney, Detail of Face

Artist: William Henry Rinehart (1825-1874)
Title: Roger Brooke Taney (1777-1864)
Date: 1872
Medium: Bronze
Accession number: MSA SC 1545-0760

Roger Brooke Taney was born in Calvert County and served as the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1836-64. He also served in the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate and was Attorney General of Maryland. Prior to being appointed to the Supreme Court, Taney served as U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of the Treasury. His most infamous case was Dred Scott v. Sandford which ruled against Scott, a slave who was fighting for racial equality under the Constitution. This statue was installed at the southeast facade of the State House, which is the original front entrance of the building, from December 10, 1872 until August 18, 2017.

In 1867 the General Assembly appropriated funds for a monument to Taney, and in 1869 renowned Maryland artist William Henry Rinehart received the commission. The statue was cast in bronze and completed in Munich by March of 1872, after which it was shipped from Rome in May. The statue, and its engraved granite pedestal, were unveiled on December 10, 1872 on the grounds of the State House with Rinehart present.

The Dred Scott decision, and monuments to Taney, were controversial even in their own time. A portrait bust of Taney in marble was copied by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens for the Supreme Court room at the U.S. Capitol, based on the original sculpture in Annapolis. Though initially proposed in 1865, the creation of a bust for the U.S. Capitol was so vehemently debated that it wasn’t commissioned until 1874, or completed until 1877. This delay in national recognition of the Chief Justice in large part drove the desire of some Marylanders to honor the only holder of the position from this state by creating this monument.

William T. Walters later funded the creation of a recast of the Annapolis sculpture which he gave to the City of Baltimore in 1887. It was installed at Mount Vernon Place where it remained until it was removed from display on August 16, 2017.